Samsung To Launch Google Glass Competitor This Fall

6-26-2013 10-45-21 PM

A Korean Times article is reporting that Samsung will unveil a Google Glass competitor this September. Called Galaxy Glass, the new wearable device is expected to be unveiled at this year’s IFA fair in Berlin. Samsung’s version is expected to pair with Android smartphones and offer the same set of core features that Google Glass will deliver.

Google is rumored to be preparing to commercially launch Glass in the second half of 2014, so Samsung’s timing may be designed to take the wind out of Google’s sails just as they launch. However, Google and Samsung have developed somewhat of a collaborative relationship over the past year, as their mobile strategies rely heavily on one another. Solidifying that collaboration, the two companies announced an agreement that will allow them to share all of each others existing and newly issued patents for the next 10 years.

Despite the buzz around Glass, Google would have to ignore its entire history in the mobile space to believe that Samsung could not take its Glass software platform and then design a more commercially popular headset around it. Samsung is the hardware vendor that allows Google to compete with Apple.

Google has, since its launch, defined itself as a software company. Perhaps not because that is what Google wants to be, but because that has been where all of Google’s successes have come from: software. Google Search owns 66 percent of the overall search market. Google’s Android operating system leads both the smartphone and tablet OS markets with a wide margin. Chrome, Google’s web browser,  has a double digit edge over either Firefox, or all versions of Internet Explorer combined.

However, Google has traditionally struggled with hardware design. The company launched its first smartphone, the Nexus One, in 2010. The phone received positive reviews early on, but never went on to the kind of commercial successes that Apple and Samsung were seeing. Google stuck with the Nexus line of smartphones until just this week when they announced that Nexus would be discontinued in 2015.

Google’s next effort to be a big player in the consumer electronics world came when it acquired Motorola for $12.5 billion. It was an acquisition that showed that Google was serious about stepping up its effort to become a consumer electronics manufacturer. Google’s first post-acquisition product launch was the Moto X. Like the Nexus, Google’s Moto X received positive reviews but saw disappointing sales results with only 500,000 units sold during the quarter the phone was released, compared to Samsung’s 10 million Galaxy S4 phones sold within a month if its release.

Perhaps Google got it right with Google Glass, and there will be little commercial interest in Samsung’s competing devices. If history is any indicator though, they didn’t and Samsung will bring a viable alternative to a market that is currently uncontested. With a patent sharing agreement in place, Samsung is now free to attack the Glass market in the same way that it attacked and won the smartphone market, crushing Google’s Nexus and Moto smartphone lines in the process, but pushing Google’s mobile OS well into the market leader position.

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